As we enter the new academic year, the pandemic continues to impact our course delivery in new and ever changing ways. In addition to our remote course offerings this Fall, preparations are well underway for a number of hyflex courses (in which students can choose between remote and in-person participation) as well as a handful of fully in-person courses.

Some colleagues will be teaching in Schulich’s new hyflex classrooms for the first time this Fall (SSB N105, N109, W141, X106, and MB G101). These rooms have been set up with the necessary technology to support the delivery of courses to both in-person and remote audiences simultaneously. This technology includes a tracking camera, lapel mic, ceiling mics, speakers, a large monitor, and a document camera. This is an exciting step for the School in its course innovation and we highly encourage you to watch the CITE Office’s recent demo session of this technology to learn more about the enormous capabilities that come with teaching in the hyflex format.

Regardless of whether you are teaching in person or remotely this fall, there are a number of important steps to take that will help ensure a smooth start of term for everyone. Please review the checklist below:

1. Prepare for 2-hour/week synchronous class sessions (undergrad and masters level): As previously communicated, Fall 2021 undergraduate and masters level synchronous class sessions have been scheduled as 2-hour blocks instead of 3-hour blocks. This change was made to ensure equity and consistency in timing amongst all course formats and class sections. (Please note that PhD-level courses were exempted from the University’s guiding principles for Fall. They will be offered remotely and have retained their 3-hour duration.) This does not mean courses are simply losing one hour a week. Instructors are asked to think of a single 3.00 credit course as the equivalent to approximately 100 hours of work. With the typical 3-hour class blocks, courses were divided into two components: 36 hours synchronous learning (weekly class time) and 64 hours of asynchronous unscheduled learning activities students completed on their own time. For Fall 2021, instructors are asked to think of the model as having a 24 hour synchronous component and 76 hour asynchronous component. This means adapting your courses so that students engage with additional asynchronous course content outside of scheduled class time. (Note: instructors teaching a single-section remote course may go over the 2-hour time limit but only if they have negotiated this with their students. Students should not be penalized if they leave at the 2-hour mark. Instructors are encouraged to record their sessions so that students have the option to view the content at a later stage.) For help with your course building, please contact cite@schulich.yorku.ca.

2. Ensure you have a course delivery backup plan in place in case the situation with COVID worsens and a shift to remote learning is required.

3. Update and review your course syllabus. Communicate the mode of your course (hyflex, remote, in-person) and any specific classes where applicable (e.g., If the course is hyflex, which specific lectures can students choose to attend in-person, and which if any are fully remote?). Review the standardized language in the ‘Learning in the HyFlex and Remote Classrooms’ and the ‘General Academic Policies’ sections in the syllabus. A few additions to these sections are underway (e.g., requirements for visiting campus) and a notification will be sent out once they go live next week.

4. Prepare exams for the remote format. Exams will continue to be held remotely in Fall 2021. In-person courses may have the option of holding exams in-person, but this is still unconfirmed at this time. Instructors of in-person courses should stay tuned for more information. Please keep in mind that remote proctoring is not permitted without the permission of the ADA. Please also review the process for dealing with technical issues during an assessment.

5. Communicate clear expectations for student class participation via the course syllabus and in week 1. Keep in mind that student camera use during online classes cannot be mandated. For hyflex courses, please ensure that the assessment of participation does not favour one mode of attendance. All students should have opportunities for asynchronous participation. Many international students will also be participating in classes from outside of Canada due to immigration and travel issues, and time zone, connectivity and wellness concerns may arise during the term. Any questions about providing support to the international community can be directed to Ann Welsh, Associate Director, International Relations.

6. Take advantage of the range of course design resources available. Over the past several months, the School has engaged in various information-gathering initiatives with members of the community to capture the wealth of experience we have gained from our remote course delivery thus far. Overall, the results are positive: instructors’ significant investments in their courses have paid off in terms of student satisfaction. We still have room for improvement, however. Both instructor and student feedback suggest that the following practices have been particularly effective in building engaging remote learning experiences, and we encourage you to try them out if you haven’t yet:

These are just a few of the practices we know our students and instructors have found to be effective. For more ideas, visit Schulich’s Online Course Design Guide or the HyFlex Guide. The CITE Office is also offering live training sessions as well as a Self-Paced Instructor Training Course on remote and hyflex delivery that provides asynchronous opportunities to practice alongside video walk-throughs.

7. Review Senate’s language on the importance of encouraging a community of care from the May 6th update on Principles to Guide 2021-2022 Course Planning: “As pandemic-weariness increases, instructors and students are encouraged to uphold compassion, kindness, empathy, and a sense of responsibility towards one another amid such uncertainty and strain. Instructors are reminded of the need to adhere to scheduled instructional times so as to ensure timely start and end points essential to student planning, and to observe the Course Outline Guidelines established by the Senate Committee on Academic Standards, Curriculum & Pedagogy, as well as Senate regulations around grades and provision of feedback to students. Instructors are encouraged to be sensitive to technology issues that impact students during synchronous remote instructional activities, including tests/exams, and to consider alternative assessments in those instances where stable, highspeed internet capacity cannot be guaranteed.”

Questions? Here is a list of contacts for assistance:

We are currently awaiting additional information from the Ministry of Colleges and Universities (MCU) as well as the University with regard to the Fall term and the return to campus, including social distancing requirements and capacity limits. Please stay tuned for another communication once we have more information.

Regardless of whether you will be delivering your courses on campus or remotely this coming term, taking the time to prepare in accordance with the above information will help ensure both you and your students have a smooth and successful start to the academic year.

Thank you for all your efforts to deliver another term of high quality learning experiences for our students in spite of the uncertainty and continually evolving circumstances we find ourselves in.